Fifth COVID-19 vaccine starts UK clinical trials

Covid-19 News | Healthcare | National

Valneva has today started UK clinical trials for its promising COVID-19 vaccine.

Speciality vaccine company Valneva’s candidate will initially be tested on 150 UK volunteers at four National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) testing sites in Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle and Southampton. These early phase 1 and 2 trials will show whether the vaccine produces a safe and effective immune response against COVID-19.

Should this early trial prove successful, larger clinical trials will be planned for April 2021 with over 4,000 UK volunteers testing 2 doses of the vaccine in 2 groups: those aged between 18-65 years and over 65s.

The UK government has already pre-ordered Valneva’s vaccine candidate and should studies prove it to be safe and effective, 60 million doses could be made available to the UK by the end of 2021.

This latest milestone follows a multi-million-pound up-front investment announced in August by the UK government and Valneva to expand its Livingston facility. This supports over 100 highly skilled jobs for technicians and scientists at the West Lothian site, while advancing Scotland’s vaccine manufacturing capacity.

Through this investment, if Valneva’s vaccine candidate proves successful, this permanent facility will potentially have the capacity to supply up to 250 million vaccine doses to the UK and internationally.

Valneva’s vaccine is the fifth to enter clinical trials in the UK, alongside Oxford/AstraZeneca, Imperial College London, Novavax and Janssen, whose studies are currently ongoing.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma, said: “As we take the monumental steps in rolling out the first COVID-19 vaccine, we must remember that we need to have a range of vaccines available to protect the British public now and long into the future.

“Today we have more welcome news that life-saving clinical trials will begin across the country to test the safety and effectiveness of Valneva’s vaccine, which is being clinically developed right here in the UK.

“Having visited Valneva’s state-of-the art facility in the Summer, I have seen first-hand the incredible work our scientists and researchers are doing to develop this vaccine.”

The UK was the first country in the world to both procure and authorise the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, ordering 40 million doses – enough for around a third of the population. The UK was also the first country in the West to start a mass COVID-19 vaccination programme, which began on 8 December.

In total, the UK government has developed a portfolio of 7 different vaccine candidates and secured access to 357 million doses to date, putting the UK in the best position for a vaccine and increasing chances of finding vaccines that work for different people.

Through the government’s Vaccines Taskforce, the UK has secured early access to 357 million doses of seven of the most promising vaccine candidates, including:

  • BioNTech/Pfizer – Phase III – 40 million doses secured
  • Oxford/Astra Zeneca – Phase III – 100 million doses secured
  • Moderna – Phase III – 7 million doses secured
  • Novavax – Phase III – 60 million doses secured
  • Janssen – Phase III – 30 million doses secured
  • GSK/Sanofi – Phase I / II – 60 million doses secured
  • Valneva – Phase I / II – 60 million doses secured, with an option to acquire a further 130 million if the vaccine is proven to be safe, effective and suitable

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